Getting charged with a traffic offense of any sort, including DUIs, requires that a police officer first stops you. It makes sense to prevent yourself from being stopped in the first place, and you can help to avoid being pulled over by taking some proactive steps. Other than if your vehicle is stopped at a checkpoint, police officers are required to have a reasonable suspicion to believe you have or are committing an offense of some sort. The law doesn’t allow officers to stop people based on a hunch, instead holding them to the minimal standard of reasonable suspicion.
People who are pulled over in California are normally stopped for various violations of the state’s traffic laws. The vehicle code outlines the rules regarding how you conduct yourself while you are driving on the road as well as how your vehicle must be maintained.
REASONABLE SUSPICION AND PROBABLE CAUSE
Reasonable suspicion is a minimal standard that was first described in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Terry v. Ohio. In that case, the court held that it is okay for an officer to stop a person absent probable cause to arrest if he or she has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is committing an offense. This is what is required for officers to be able to pull people over. It is a lesser standard than probable cause to arrest a person. In the context of a DUI stop, probable cause to arrest may occur after the stop through observations the officer makes of the driver. Since an officer must have reasonable suspicion to believe you have committed a traffic or other offense, it makes sense for you to take steps to prevent any potential stop from happening in the first place.
COMMON VIOLATIONS THAT CAN LEAD TO A STOP
There are many reasons that might lead to a stop. Among the most frequent are the following. By avoiding them, you may also be able to prevent yourself from being stopped by the police.
1. BURNED OUT LIGHTS
Make sure that you promptly replace any bulbs on your vehicle when they burn out. This includes your taillights, headlights, turn signals and the light that illuminates your license plate in the back of your car. When you have lights that are burned out, an officer may decide to stop you.
2. DARK-TINTED WINDOWS
The Vehicle Code prohibits tint that is too dark. To avoid getting pulled over for this, don’t apply after-market dark tint film. You can’t have this installed on your driver’s side or passenger’s side windows, or on your windshield.
3. DON’T TALK OR TEXT ON YOUR CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING
Refrain from talking or texting on your cell phone while you drive, including using hands-free features. Talking and texting on your phone is prohibited in California while you drive. While using a hands-free cell phone to talk is only illegal for drivers under age 18, you may end up swerving or committing other traffic violations when your attention is distracted away from the business of driving.
4. DON’T LITTER
Don’t throw things out the window while you drive. This is both bad for the environment and may also be used as a reason to stop you. Even tossing out a cigarette butt or ashing out the window while you drive is a code violation and a sufficient reason for an officer to pull you over.
5. DISPLAY A LICENSE PLATE ON THE FRONT AND BACK OF YOUR CAR
Make sure you have plates attached to both the front and back of your vehicle. If you don’t have holes on the front of your car for a plate, have them drilled so you can attach your plate. Otherwise, you might find yourself stopped by a police officer.
6. KEEP YOUR REGISTRATION UP-TO-DATE
Don’t let the registration on your vehicle expire. Having expired tags is a quick way to get pulled over.
7. DON’T OBSTRUCT YOUR VISION
Dangling objects from your rearview mirror or not fixing cracks in your windshield can get you pulled over. You also need to make certain that any GPS device you use is mounted in the far lower-right area of your windshield within seven inches or in the lower-left within five inches.
CALL AN EXPERIENCED CRIMINAL DEFENSE DUI LAWYER
If you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence, you should get help from an experienced criminal defense attorney. When you come to Riverside, San Bernadino and Orange County’s leading DUI defense law firm of Scott D. Henry, you’ll find yourself with a highly qualified and skilled attorney who will work hard for you. To schedule a time to speak with a lawyer, call us today.